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Mar 25, 2017

J is for Me {5Things}

I've never done this before, but today I'm writing about myself, Jodi.  I've told you things about me and a bit of my weight loss journey.  I've told you my #OneWord a few times.  My About Me blurb just says, "I'm a homeschooling, Jesus loving, wife and mother. I'm Learning to be a Light."  Hmm... that's pretty short and vague.  I might need to update that.

A rare sight on my blog.  Me!

So, here's J is for Jodi and Journey.

Today, I'm sharing #5Things about me and expanding on the About Me section.

1. Homeschooling.  I started homeschooling *many* years ago (the bigger will be 32 this year).  He belonged to a program through our school in NY where he attended classes at the vocational facility 8th grade through high school.  The problem started when the district decided to save some money and not send that class to the BOCES campus and educated them in town.  They did not take gym.  For years.  I knew this would not go well, but I *assumed* they had figured this all out.  I was wrong.  He was starting 11th grade when we moved to another district and (surprise, surprise) he did not have the required PE credits to graduate on time.  Suddenly, I have a kid in 11th grade taking triple gym classes (12th grade would have been double PE).  I asked about other ways he could earn the credits and was told classes at the Y could substitute for the missed credits.  When it was time to get the credits at the end of the semester, they would not award them.  So, I pulled him from school and began our homeschool journey.  A few months later when we moved to Vermont, he took his GED and the kid who was failing chemistry because he did not have a free period for labs, now had an HSE diploma with a nice high score attached to it.

That was it for us.  Micah was completely OK with me staying home once we started having children.  He was "co-op schooled" in NY for grade school, so had a pretty good idea how this would all go.

2. Jesus loving.  I struggle with this one a lot.  Not the loving Jesus part, but the *living* Jesus part.  Seeing all the Christian self-help books available out there, I'd guess I'm not alone.

3. Wife.  I have the most amazing husband.  He's smart and loving.  He's the hardest worker I know.  And he's *funny*!  He makes me laugh every day!  The wife part, well, I'm not great, but I like to think I bring him a bit of joy and make his days a bit easier, too.  Most of the time.

4. Mom.  The bigger, the bigger littles (or middles, I guess), and the little (who also is not so little anymore) call me Old Lady, Ma, Mom, Mommy, Mama, The Meanest Mom in the World...  The days are monotonous and long, I won't lie.  The years are incredible.  The fears seem overwhelming.  I've stopped praying for God to make me a better mother and helping the kids control themselves and have started praying for God to help me defeat my fears *through Him*.  It feels good.  When I remember to pray...

5. Learning to be a Light.  I actually started a blog on this.  And promptly stopped writing in it.  I keep pretty much everything here on Insane in the Mombrain now.  It was a prettier, girlier blog than this one!  I liked my post on Lent over there.  (It isn't difficult to spot, I only have two posts up!)

So, there you have it, a bit about me.

Check out the rest of us, blogging our way through the alphabet.

A Net In Time Schooling

Mar 20, 2017

Creating a Masterpiece ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

The boys are little interested in art (or crafts, for that matter) that doesn't involve trains.  Or mine cars.  Or Minecraft.  They're not really interested in much of anything that doesn't involve trains, actually.  Because of that, I was tempted to ask not to be placed on this review for the Monthly Plan.  I really wanted to give Creating a Masterpiece a legitimate try first though.  I'm so glad we did!  There is a sample lesson in soft pastel that you can try for free. 

We dug out our cheap pastels and some black construction paper and got to work.  I did pass out rubber gloves, because I have two kids I think would not have liked smearing the chalk around while their fingers got messier and messier.  When I think about it, it's almost hilarious because they *are* messy boys in all the other ways!

I was really pleased with how the projects came out.  Everyone worked to their abilities and seemed to be enjoying the lesson.  Mal was a little upset by the end because he didn't feel it was "as good" as the instructor's or mine.  We worked through all three sessions to complete it at once and he really needed it broken down a bit more.  That was entirely my fault.  Since we mostly enjoyed that *fantastic* project, I really wanted to be on this review.

If you sign up for the free lesson, you can access a supply list for all of the masterpiece projects.  I purchased two kinds of nice paper in black and in white, chalk pastels, pens, and a few other things.  It felt a little pricey, but I can use many of the items I picked up for a ton of projects.  We did have some decent supplies already, like my good colored pencils.  I also have some oil paints, but I haven't ventured into that realm yet.  (Scary.)

The online art program videos are taught by Sharon Hofer who also has a fine art school.  She teaches all the techniques required to complete a lesson, offers tips on supplies to purchase, and walks you step by step through each lesson.  The best part about the videos, is that you can easily pause at any time so each child (or mom) can catch up without feeling rushed.  Once you learn the techniques, they can be used to create other projects of your own choosing.  Instructions are very clear and Sharon is a very pleasant person to watch.

While there are 3D art lessons in balsa carving, glass mosaic, and sculpture, we stuck with two dimensional art during the review period.  Our projects included soft pastels, colored pencil, and ink.  I do not have an artistic bone in my body, but I found the lessons we completed to be fun, (mostly) stress-free, and relatively easy.  The finished masterpieces look so nice.  Each of the punks put their own twist on the assignments.  I think they enjoyed the colored pencil: tropical clown fish lesson best.  That one seemed to be the easiest one to adapt a bit.  They added tiny fish in the background and things on the sea floor.

I'm a paper crafter myself, and as I was working on the lesson in ink: dragonfly, I was thinking about how much fun it would be to have the punks make small versions of art to place on card fronts.  In fact, a wintry scene would be just right for a Christmas card.  There happens to be a beginner level lesson in oil pastel: winter cabin that would look lovely.  Stipple would *not* be the technique I would use for that!  Well, maybe with sharpies, but certainly not with the micron pen I used.  But wouldn't that be an amazingly sweet card to receive?

I really liked that these projects are *masterpieces* and not the usual arts and crafts type lessons younger children would be making.  We still do plenty of those, two of my kids cannot be kept away from any scrap of construction paper and kid's version of art supplies.  There is a marked difference between the quality of those projects that isn't explained just by the supplies.  They really put forth an effort with the good supplies and the guidance of Sharon.

Here are our projects.

Colored Pencil Tropical Clown Fish - level 1
For this, I used my Faber-Castell pencils.  These worked very nicely for the layering and blending this artwork required.  Mal and Xav used Crayola *erasable* pencils which they love, but they weren't really suitable in this instance.  Merrick started with crayon and I didn't bother arguing with him.  Once he realized they didn't work the same as the pencils, he switched to some old Pedigree pencils I had.  Any regular colored pencils you have should work fine.  I learned that I can not put the paper on the table cloth because it left lines in my work.

Ink Dragonfly - level 2
I bought the micron pens recommended in the lesson.  I also grabbed a pack of colored micron pens.  I completed this project alone, but after watching the video, I think the boys might be able to do a decent job of it with a Sharpie.  Stippling takes a long time with a micron pen!  :)  As I worked through the dragonfly with the black pen, I was wondering about adding colors to the picture.  I told my husband I wanted to add some blue and green, but was afraid to ruin the whole thing.  (See?  I have no artistic talent at all.)  At the end of the video lesson, Sharon did say it was fine to do that.  I added some highlights, but I had so many dots in that dragonfly, I don't really think you can see them.  I learned that it's OK to try any of the ideas that come to mind because it might even be mentioned as an option at the end of the video.

Ink Peacock Feathers - beginner
While this lesson was also in ink, it called for India ink, the kind you would use in a fountain pen.  When I was deciding which projects to showcase in our review and making a list of supplies to order, I did not plan to do this one at this time.  I actually bought a bunch of nice pastels, because we enjoyed the sample lesson so much.  I wanted to feature different mediums and techniques, so I chose this one because it was so pretty.  I thought about the Tombow pen that was needed for this project and realized I own some Tombow from my paper crafting past life.  That reminded me that I had stamp pad refills (aka ink!) in my craft room as well.  So that's exactly what I used.  I love how it came out.  I learned that sometimes you have exactly what you need in your stash!

Lessons come in six levels, beginner and 1-5.  Each level includes similar media, but with progressively more challenging projects.  Some of the techniques are:
  • chalk pastels
  • oil pastels
  • ink
  • colored pencil
  • watercolor
  • sculpture
  • acrylics
  • pencil
  • silk dying
  • gouache
  • charcoal
  • alcohol ink
  • and glass mosaic.
More advanced lessons are available in copper tooling, batik, portraiture, and wood burning.  Sharon also offers an Art in History program that looks terrific.  There are currently four lessons in that section, with more on the way.  You can read a bit about it on the Projects page.  Just choose the Art in History tab.

There are three membership options for families.  There is a monthly plan and a yearly plan with access to all of the lessons on the Creating a Masterpiece website and one year access to all of the projects in an individual level.  They also offer group rates for multiple licenses.  I know art lessons can be expensive, but just as an example Level 2 currently consists of nine projects (31 lessons of various lengths).  For $169 you could access them for a full year.  Our co-op offers real art lessons and students pay nearly that amount for 15-17 classes (every other week).

Find Creating a Masterpiece on social media.

You might really enjoy seeing what the rest of the Homeschool Review Crew did with their families by clicking the banner below.

Creating Beautiful Art at Home {Creating A Masterpiece Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Mar 17, 2017

Stella was a fickle storm.

Stella has finally moved on and we're still moving snow.  It's funny how much snow was forecast for much of the areas to be hit by her, including the cities, that never materialized.  We, however, received *plenty* of the white stuff.  After the 22.25 inches I shared with you the other day, I know we had three more "shovels" of about 3-4 inches each for a grand total of around 31-34 inches.  Luckily, it is settling down and getting damper with the sun shining on it.  It's no longer dry enough to be blown all over (making driving dangerous) and the kids can make snow people and tunnels and whatever else strikes their fancy.

Daddy got the roof rake out and pulled a bunch of snow into a substantial pile in the front yard which will be made into a wonderful fort this weekend.  The boys were forbidden from digging into, climbing on, and otherwise touching this snow.

Roads were still pretty cruddy over most of the area yesterday.  Some places much cruddier than others.  Even so, we ventured out to Tae Kwon Do and AWANA.  We lived to tell about it.

I'm glad to see the end of the storm even though it didn't greatly effect us this time.  We didn't lose power and Dad worked from home.

Mar 15, 2017

Stella - 24 hours in.

I know you've been waiting on pins and needles to see how much snow we ended up with overnight.  I know I was excited to take a peek in the daylight.  I took a few pictures around the front and side of the house today, too.

Clicking the pictures should "embiggen" them.

Our total at 24 hours of snow fall was 54cm.  Unlike most homeschoolers in the US, I do not have a yard stick.  I have a meter stick, so...  Presumably, most of you are also homeschoolers, so I wasn't going to translate that into inches.  Since it's a snow day, I decided I would.  That's about 21.25".  
Pretty decent total, I'd say.  I think there are some boys who will really 
enjoy making forts and tunnels out there once it packs a bit.

The pic on the right is our bridge into the woods.  That gives you a pretty good idea of the depth of the snow.

Out front, I found these funky tracks (right).  Anyone need a table? It's free.  

Saw the abominable snow monster across the road.  He walked his snow plow up the road and worked on our driveway, too.

That's it for now.  The kids have gone out and knocked the snow off the bridge, table, and back steps, so I'll have to actually go out and find unmarred snow to measure later.

What's all the hype about this snowstorm?

For whatever reason, winter storms now get named by The Weather Channel.  See Wiki for a mildly interesting article about that.  Since storms are generally named alphabetically, I have to wonder about this week's winter storm "Stella."  S is the 19th letter of the alphabet.  What happened to storms A to R?  Why have I never heard of any of them?  Who gets to determine if a storm qualifies for a name?

Well, regardless, we do have a storm this week.  Last night, local schools were given an early dismissal for today.  At 5 AM, they were cancelled.  Snow began gently falling around 9:30 AM.  I began taking a series of photos around 10:30.  This afternoon, I noticed many friends were doing the same thing for "The Facebook" (as in, FB knows all, FB tells all).  Great minds think alike, I tell ya.

So, this post is a bit of a cliffhanger, as we're only halfway through the storm and the last photo I took was at 7:15 PM, but tune in tomorrow for more photos.  The color in these pictures is all pretty true to life.  There was a lot of white air and the evening shots were incredibly blue.  All kind of weird.

10:30 AM Snowing 1 Hour
Kitties are ready to come back in.
Most of that snow was already here.

Noon and 2:30 PM
@2:30 it really started to snow.

3:30 PM and 4:30 PM

5:30 PM and 6:45 PM

7:15 PM  Snowing 9 hours and 45 minutes.
Last picture before dark.

Mar 14, 2017

Home School Adventure Co. ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

I'm pretty familiar with Home School Adventure Co. and have won, purchased, and reviewed several of author Stacy Farrell's products.  I was very intrigued to see what her new unit study would entail.  I received a PDF of Walking with the Waodani.  It is, conveniently, one single download file.  As with most of the other merchandise offered, it will be available as a download or a physical book.

Walking with the Waodani: Adventures in Ecuador begins with an introduction to two very interesting men, 70 year old Gary and 18 year old homeschool graduate Russell Winter.  Gary has invited Russell to travel Ecuador with him, including a trip to Shell Mera where I-TEC is located.  I-TEC is a ministry founded by Steve Saint, son of Nate Saint one of the five missionaries killed by a Waodani raiding party in 1956.

This brand new unit study contains gorgeous photography and consists of five lessons.
  1. Introduction
  2. Shell Mera Then
  3. Shell Mera Now
  4. Ecuador
  5. Quito 
Complete a unit either weekly or monthly.  There are plenty of things to do to round out a fairly full unit.  An included recommended resources list of links, books, and videos contains so many options, it would be difficult to make use of all of them as a weekly study.  I really debated about showing the films End of the Spear and Beyond the Gates of Splendor to the boys.  Yes, they've seen some violence in videos before, though not anything graphic.  And while nudity and partial nudity are a part of life in this situation, I just wasn't able to bring myself to show these movies at this time.  The Torchlighter film about Jim Elliot and the four other missionaries killed by the Waodani tribe in 1956 was plenty accurate enough for me.

The last four segments consist of a lesson and a "travel journal."

The lesson components are
  • an Introduction.
  • People & Places.
  • Meals & Markets.
  • Animal & Agriculture.
  • and Worlds & Worldview.
There is a significant amount of reading to do (about eight pages), so we broke that down over several days.  The boys have difficulty listening to long segments, so that worked well for us.

The components of the travel journal are
  • Travel Journal Notebooking Pages.  Q&A about the reading, 
  • Mark Your Map.  Mapping a specific location and recording data related to the lesson.
  • Rate the Recipe.  Critique a "recipe" from the lesson.  Piranha?  Grubs?  Anyone?
  • Draw an Animal.  Draw an animal and tell what you think is interesting about it.
  • Creativity Unleashed.  A freewriting assignment with an exciting prompt.
In the travel journal section, there is also quite a bit of writing for my boys. They loved the drawing and mapping segments.  They even wrote answers for the Q&A.  However, we completed much of the other assignments through conversation and oral story telling.

At the end you'll find a vocabulary section.  The Wonderful World of Words lists words alphabetically by unit with reference to the section and page where you can read the words in context.  There is space to write the definitions directly into the unit study page, or you can do what we do with new vocabulary.  Mal and Xav each have an ongoing dictionary where they can record all of the new words from various unit and literature studies.

Some things we did included imagining eating bugs and learning about animals!

These are Mal's recipe reviews.  The piranha is wearing a magician hat and carrying a wand.  "Watch my friends and I make this cow disappear!"

Xav drew the two toed sloth, greeting you very slowly.  His piranha picture (not shown) has grill marks X'ed across it.

Stacy has written an introductory post about first meeting Russell.

Social Media Links:


Other members of the Crew were able to review various Homeschool Adventure Co. products, including Creative Freewriting Adventure, I'd Rather Be Your Mommy, Celebrating Manhood: a rite of passage guide, and more reviews for Walking With the Waodani.  Click the banner below to see those reviews.

Resources with a Biblical Worldview{Home School Adventure Co. Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Mar 11, 2017

H is for Hidden Sin

I was making myself the most beautiful salad, loaded with veggies, an egg, craisins...  Yum!  As I sliced into this gorgeous bell pepper, {GAH!} rotten and nasty inside.  I had specifically chosen this particular pepper because it was the nicest one in the produce aisle.  Pleh.

Our sin is like that.  Darkness lurks in our hearts.  While we are often able to conceal sin from other people, even those who are quite close to us, we cannot shroud our wrongdoings from the One who created us.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve hid from God.  God called out to them, "Where are you?"  I'm pretty sure He knew where they were.  Nothing is not known to Him.  He knows every secret sin in our hearts.  There is no hiding from the Creator of all.

Thanks to A Net In Time and Hopkins Homeschool for hosting this Blogging Through the Alphabet run.

My other H post:

A Net In Time Schooling

Mar 2, 2017

G is for... Chocolate!

No.  That isn't a typo.  G *is* for chocolate, really Good Chocolate.  Namely Ghiradelli chocolate.  Aaaand Lindt.  And Ferrero Roche and Rondnoir.  And...  You get the gist. 

You may have noticed I like chocolate quite a bit.  I managed to run a series about hot cocoa one winter, for crying out loud.  I eat cocoa roasted almonds.  I drink chocolate mint tea.  I eat chocolate every. single. day.  I would say chocolate is *very* responsible for my slow weight loss.  No.  Not chocolate, but the *love* of chocolate.  (See what I did there?)

Chocolate means way too much to me.  As yesterday was Ash Wednesday, or the first day of Lent, I gave up chocolate.

Some of the chocolate in my house right now.

I only put one of each thing in there, but there are BAGS of tasty chocolate in this house.  You may have noticed there is no actual high quality chocolate in this pile.  That is because I ate it.  I literally ate every piece of Good chocolate in the house on Monday and Tuesday (except for the ice cream and almonds).  I also am out of chocolate mint tea.  Thinking about my binge session just makes me want to cry.  I don't even know what is the saddest part.
  • I wanted the chocolate so much, I ate it before Lent started.
  • I binged so I could have it *all*.
  • I sabotaged my weight loss and health.
  • I did not even take the time to enjoy it.

Lately, I've been thinking about persecuted Christians.  I wonder if I could be strong enough to be true to Christ if this thing or that thing happened.  My heart breaks for the people who have to make those decisions.  Then, here it was, the first day of Lent, and my brain actually for one minute said, "Screw it.  I'm not Catholic.  Forget this Lent stuff.  I'm going to eat that chocolate."  I was shocked at what was in my brain.  For a split second, I wasn't even feeling willing to GIVE UP CHOCOLATE for 40 days.

Then I thought about every single thing Christ did for me.  ME.  The girl who contemplates giving up on giving up chocolate on the first day of Lent.  And I thought.  Man, "that girl" really needs her some Jesus.

God help me.  Please.

A Net In Time Schooling

My other G Posts